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Hillsborough prescription drug operation ensnares 30 more people

TAMPA — For 10 months, detectives bought prescription drugs from street dealers. They made deals with nurses. And they investigated a doctor.

The end result was "Operation Bad Medicine," a Hillsborough County sheriff's probe that yielded 111 arrests since its inception in June 2008, officials announced. Thirty people were served warrants Friday.

Deputies said they seized more than 8,400 doses of the drugs Roxicodone, Dilaudid, oxycodone, morphine, methadone and Xanax.

Investigators concluded some dealers were selling their own pain medicine for $11 to $15 per pill while others "doctor shopped," got multiple prescriptions from different, unknowing doctors and sold them, said J.D. Callaway, a sheriff's spokesman.

Authorities also arrested a doctor, two nurses, and three medical assistants, they say were a part of the "voluminous black market" in the Tampa Bay area.

One of the earliest arrests in the chain was of a former medical director of the Hillsborough County jail system who had several malpractice lawsuits filed against him.

Dr. John Nkolo Mubang, 57, was arrested in July after the Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigated several complaints filed by patients of his clinic.

Tammy Hyder, mother of Carl Hyder, told the St. Petersburg Times her 21-year-old son was a patient of Mubang's before his death in 2006.

"My son needed pain medication, and he found this Dr. Mubang, and next thing he walked out with the highest concentration of Xanax," Tammy Hyder said. "One (pill) would put him under the table."

Mubang was charged with three counts of writing a prescription for the sole purpose of monetary benefit and trafficking in controlled substances.

He was released one week after his arrest on $30,000 bail. A trial date has not been set.

Nurses were swept up in the investigation, as well.

Rosalina Hanson, 24, who listed herself in jail records as a nurse at Tampa General Hospital, was arrested April 22 and charged with obtaining a controlled substance by fraud. She is held without bail at the Falkenburg Road Jail.

And Jennifer Svec, 27, told deputies she was unemployed when she was arrested in December outside Tampa General Hospital and charged with three counts of trafficking oxycodone and other drug related charges.

Callaway said authorities later confirmed she was a registered nurse. Jail records show she was released from jail on Jan. 23, with restrictions.

And though there has been significant process in the past 10 months, Callaway said the job is by no means done.

"We will continue to investigate these kind of crimes and make arrests," he said. "This is not the end of this at all."

Robbyn Mitchell can be reached at rmitchell@sptimes.com or (8130 226-3373.

Hillsborough prescription drug operation ensnares 30 more people 05/01/09 [Last modified: Monday, May 4, 2009 3:40pm]
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